METUCHEN – Bishop Paul G. Bootkoski has announced the names of three newly created parishes to be established Jan. 1, 2014, when seven parishes will merge through the Diocese of Metuchen’s Renewing the Church process.
In New Brunswick, St. John the Baptist Parish and St. Mary of Mount of Virgin Parish will join to receive the new name of Parish of the Visitation; St. Joseph Parish, St. Ladislaus Parish and Sacred Heart Parish together will take the new name Holy Family Parish. Manville’s two Catholic communities, Christ the King Parish and Sacred Heart Parish, will unite to be called Christ the Redeemer Parish.
“While the renewing process will bring together faith communities, or parishes, to share ministries, resources and a pastor, it’s important for parishioners to know that the current worship sites, or church buildings, in New Brunswick and Manville will remain open for the foreseeable future,” said Bootkoski.
The names of the new parishes, the bishop added, were chosen from three suggestions submitted to him by each of the new parishes. He said parishioners were given the opportunity to participate in selecting the name of their new parish, and he was hopeful the new faith communities in New Brunswick and Manville will come together as one.
The selection of the parish names is part of the diocese’s Renewing the Church process that is rooted in prayer, discernment, discussion and openness.
Holy Family Parish
Parishioners of Sacred Heart, St. Joseph and St. Ladislaus were the first to learn of their new name, Holy Family, June 8 when Bootkoski revealed his selection to the congregation gathered for an evening Confirmation Mass at Sacred Heart, at which he served as the main celebrant and homilist.
“The Confirmation Mass coincided with our parish’s 130th Anniversary celebration and, with representatives from the other two parishes in attendance, we thought that that would be a perfect moment if he (the Bishop) chose to announce it, and he did,” said Rev. Msgr. Joseph J. Kerrigan, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish.
In his remarks, the bishop expressed his hope that “these communities will be united in the same respect and love that characterized the home of Jesus, his Blessed Mother Mary, and her spouse St. Joseph.”
Msgr. Kerrigan said of the name, “Holy Family gives us something we can point to now and we can work toward. Like all families, the Holy Family is pretty strange when you look at it – Virgin Mother, Savior of the World, refugees – so it can become a motif for who we are: Poles, Hungarians, Mexicans and everybody else. But then, obviously, we’re working toward a more unified version where we’re not just our ethnicities but we’re the Body of Christ.”
Ana Bonilla-Martinez, who has been a member of Sacred Heart Parish for nearly a decade, said that it is important for parishioners of the new parish to retain a sense of history and to “remember their roots” as they continue to work toward unity.
“We will hopefully enter a revitalization process in which the uniqueness of each community is highlighted and celebrated yet, at the same time, allow all parishioners the opportunity to come together and celebrate the Good News, and beauty of our common faith,” Bonilla-Martinez said.
Elizabeth Gajewska-Miazin, a member of St. Joseph Parish, said that when going through a transition such as this, it’s important for members of the faith communities involved to have a clear plan of action and timeline, which she believes are in place, as well as an open line of communication with parish leaders.
“Monsignor Kerrigan’s attitude has been greatly helpful; for example, his patience in always being available to answer questions, even sometimes the same ones over and over. As a result, some people have gradually started to listen to the new information.” Gajewska-Miazin said.
Carol Meszaros, a member of St. Ladislaus Parish for more than 45 years, said as the “family of three churches” comes together, she believes there are many advantages and “the change is for the better.”
“People from each parish are just getting to know each other,” said Meszaros. “While our ideas and our ethnicities may be different, I’ve realized just how similar we all are, because we are all Catholics first.”
“I’ve enjoyed having the opportunity to meet new people and I think, in general, parishioners are more relaxed now than they were in the beginning because they’re seeing that coming together can be very rewarding for all of us and that we still can maintain our identity and our culture. That’s so important.”
Parish of the Visitation
Parishioners at St. Mary of Mount Virgin and St. John the Baptist, learned of their new name at Masses June 22 and 23. Bishop Bootkoski said he decided upon the name Parish of the Visitation because of its unifying connection to both former parishes.
The Feast of the Visitation recalls when the Blessed Virgin Mary was pregnant with Jesus and, on impulse, went to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, who was pregnant with John the Baptist.
“The Gospel tells us that at the sound of Mary’s voice and in the presence of the Savior, John stirred in Elizabeth’s womb and ‘leaped for joy.’” said Bishop Bootkoski. “It is my hope that members of the Parish of the Visitation will be united in respect and love as Mary and Elizabeth had for each other and that they will demonstrate the same zeal and fidelity for proclaiming Jesus as Lord as John did.”
Deacon Don De Lorenzo, who has been ministering to the people of St. Mary’s for nearly a year, said the name is a great choice for the new parish and agreed that it reflects a genuine connection between St. Mary’s and St. John’s.
Before coming to St. Mary’s Parish, Deacon De Lorenzo did his diaconate ministry at Transfiguration of the Lord Parish, Edison – the new parish created last year from the Renewing the Church process in South Edison-Highland Park, in which two parishes and one quasi-parish came together. That experience, he said, brings genuine optimism about the future of the Parish of The Visitation.
“When I arrived there [in Edison-Highland Park] two years ago in September, the former parishes were still going through the Renewing process. They were still working toward becoming a new parish, like we are now; and in that span of time it’s gotten much better at Transfiguration, and so I am very hopeful that that will happen here at Visitation as well.”
To assist parishioners during the transition, Deacon De Lorenzo has been responsible for updating St. Mary’s and St. John’s parishioners weekly on the Renewing process through a special page in their parish bulletins entitled “Merger News.” The goal is to keep parishioners informed and to maintain an open line of communication between parishioners and parish leaders, and to avoid any confusion or the spread of misinformation.
Laurence Danza, a longtime parishioner of St. Mary of Mount Virgin, said about 70 parishioners attended a public meeting regarding the name selection in addition to meetings of each parish council. “Of the three names that garnered the most votes,” he said, “one was from St. John’s, one was from St. Mary’s and one was from the people who attended the open meeting – and the bishop chose the final name.”
Danza, who has been serving as a facilitator at the naming meetings, said it’s important for people to know that, while retaining the history of both churches is very important and will be done, so is the need to move forward together as one faith community to build a viable future for all parishioners.
“We are simply merging parish families and the name of the parish will be the Visitation. The worship sites will remain St. Mary’s and St. John’s,” Danza said.
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